It's usual in a new SE site to see a flurry of bad tags from inexperienced users, or users used to tagging programming questions but not language questions. This topic is designed to teach us good tagging habits from the beginning.

  • Don't use spaces between words in multiword tags.
    For instance, not soft sign but soft-sign.
  • Do use hyphens - between words in multiword tags.
    For instance, not shortformadjectives but short-form-adjectives.
  • words is always a terrible tag for a language SE site. It's very ambiguous and could be applied to almost every question. We should consider making it a blocked tag to prevent people recreating it from time to time. (I believe this is done on some major SE sites.)
  • Avoid phrases including words. Try to use terms or some other rewording instead. word tags tend to spawn sister tags for the exact same kinds of questions that deal with phrases rather than words. And then an even uglier gap can be left between for questions dealing with both words and phrases. terms covers both, but can admittedly be a little clunk sometimes in which case some creative tag naming may be called for.
    In particular, word-choice suffers from this problem. I've tentatively renamed it to choosing-terms for now.
  • Tags should be plural (with some caveats)

Please feel free to contribute more points to be added to this list, or debate any of the ones I've included already.

  • My suggestion would be this one: reword your question and make it a question and post everything else in a CW answer! So we can use it as a sort of official topic. :)
    – Alenanno
    Jun 14, 2012 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


May I say that tagging needs some attention at this stage. I think so mainly because for me, tags failed to help me find out whether a certain topic has already been discussed.

I see the following problems with the tags. There are many tags without a wiki now. Some tags are used for more than two topics (russian-usage) and there are two tags that at least partially refer to the same topic (vocabulary vs. word-choice). I've tried to write wikis for some of them, but it needs a systematic approach and somebody who can delete tags and re-tag, I guess. It would be a good idea to put the tags in order, don't you think?

And also, wouldn't it be a nice idea to write a FAQ about tags, how to use and create them?

Also I've got this idea that there should be tags covering all grammatical categories, like gender, number, case. Otherwise people will create more specific tags like future-tense or common-gender.


OK. I really want to systematize tags and hope that more people will join me here. So far, I've looked only at first 20 tags. I distributed them into following categories, marked the state of their wikis and written some suggestions about what questions they should cover. I'd suggest that if we agree on them, every person who wants to do it could take one or two related tags, correct their wikis and retag the questions. Or, if you feel like doing it, look at those tags that are not covered here and see if they need some attention.

General tags

usage (Done) The wiki is now OK. It covers questions on "how this expression \ word is used".

russian-usage (Done) The wiki is fine now. It covers questions on how Russian is used outside the Russian Federation.

word-choice (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers questions about difference between 2 or more words.

single-word-requests (Done) The wiki is OK. Should cover questions like "what word should I choose in this context?" No more mixed up with other tags.

vocabulary (Done) The wiki is OK. Let's have it as something that is opposed to the grammar tag and use for all possible vocabulary questions.

grammar (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers all possible things about grammar.

pronunciation (Done) The wiki is OK now.. It covers questions like "how is this word pronounced? what vowels are reduced in an unstressed syllable and how?".

spelling The wiki is OK. Covers questions like 187.

orthography The wiki is OK. Probably should be merged with "spelling". Let's keep both for the time being and see if they are really used for different things or not.

translation (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers questions like "what is the translation for?.."

english-to-russian Same as translation, is not used.

learning (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers requests for literature and resources on language learning.

etymology (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers questions like "where does this word \ phrase come from (as in question 366)". However, the question "why is it пить таблетки, not есть таблетки" should probably go to semantics, m?

Grammatical categories and parts of speech

adjectives (Done) The wiki is now OK, covers questions like 50 or 5.

nouns (Done) The wiki is now OK. Covers questions about grammatical categories of nouns, that is, when it is essential for the question that the words are nouns.

verbs (Done) The wiki is now OK. Covers questions about finite verbs as well as infinitives, participles, and gerunds.

plurals The wiki is OK. Covers questions about plural forms of nouns. Maybe it's good to add another tag for singulars or to rename the tag to "number"?

cases The wiki is OK. Covers questions like 404 and 168.

gender Wiki needs editing (although it's funny to have a tag for non-existent things like English grammatical gender). Should cover questions like 322.

All other stuff (a.k.a interesting phenomena)

mathematics (Done) The wiki is OK, thanks to KCd. Covers translations for mathematical terminology.

computer-science (Done) There's a wiki, covers computer science terminology.

loanwords (Done) The wiki is OK. Covers questions about loanwords.

expressions (Done) It has no wiki, covers multiword idiomatic expressions.

  • You're right. usage in a tag without a wiki is ambiguous for it can refer simply to using, as in the questions about Russian used in countries other than Russia, or topics covered by style guides and language academies: "correct usage". Best is to define the scope of the tag in a tag wiki and excerpt, and also make the tags themselves less ambiguous if possible - sometimes this is hard given the maximum tag length and making the tags look professional rather than awkward. Jul 3, 2012 at 6:18
  • 1
    On other L&U sites "word choice" is to be used for the difference between a small fixed number of words, usually two, that are often partial synonyms in at least one sense. While "vocabulary" is to be used for questions involving larger sets of words related in any of various ways. Note however that "word choice" is bad because sooner or later somebody will want to ask about two short phrases and will splinter it into "phrase choice" and then later again somebody will want to choose between one word and one short phrase like English "must" vs "have to". "Term choice" may be uglier but better. Jul 3, 2012 at 6:23
  • Can you include in this answer an indication of how a wiki is created for a tag? I have no idea how this is done.
    – KCd
    Jul 5, 2012 at 0:36
  • Oh, I just figured out how to create a tag wiki: click the "about" button next to the tag on the page listing tags when the tag has no description beneath it. I added a wiki for the tag "mathematics", so please look at it and edit your answer above where you say it has no wiki, as it does now (once my proposal is approved).
    – KCd
    Jul 5, 2012 at 2:33

I don't think anybody cares about this at this moment, later on we can review the tags and give them appropriate names. The key thing with tags is to make only high ranked users able to edit them.

  • 5
    Why not care about it from the beginning?
    – Tim
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:32
  • There are more important things to do, like growing the question base. The more limitations we have the less productive we are. Jun 14, 2012 at 22:33
  • 2
    @bonomo Sorry, but I can't even begin to describe how misguided this is. First, the whole point of the private beta stage is to come up with something we could proudly present to the public at large once we go open. Good tagging practice, formatting guidelines, and so on are part of what makes a site attractive to experts, who are ultimately our target audience. Without them, any site just grows stale and dies. Second, certainly there should be limitations constraining the runaway production of low-quality questions. Third, if we ignore this now, it will become harder to fix later on.
    – Vitaly
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:49
  • 3
    @bonomo Sorry but I disagree. These are not limitations but rather regulations. We are making sure that the site follows a good path. It's easier to adjust it now than later (when we enter public beta).
    – Alenanno
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:49
  • 2
    Russian isn't much different from any other language. Why shouldn't we just borrow the set of tags form some other mature community? Jun 14, 2012 at 22:55
  • 3
    @bonomo Now that is a reasonable suggestion, but please note that hippietrail's set of guidelines is based on what is already established practice on mature sites like EL&U. Additionally, I don't think that a regular user can create a tag without also creating a question, so this is basically a reference to all of us who are busy asking questions and coming up with tags for them (and those of us who are re-tagging the questions).
    – Vitaly
    Jun 14, 2012 at 23:05
  • Vitaly, there is a belief that the experts are just people made of the same meat like anybody else. I don't think that the point about attracting experts by having a well-defined set of tags and formatting is valid. It's about the content not the wrap. Point 2 seems to be valid however doesn't relate to the question of this topic. Point 3 isn't backed by any real life examples of significant difficulties arisen during fixing the tags, so it seems exaggerated to me. Jun 14, 2012 at 23:09
  • 2
    @bonomo 1. I think you wanted to say, "just people made of the same meat who also devoted a considerable portion of their time to studying a given subject." 2. — 3. In my experience as a regular in the ELU chat, subpar tagging practices turned out to be problematic in the end. The moderator and a few people have had to spend quite a while fixing them (and are still doing that occasionally). So, yes, if personal experience counts, it is backed up by real-life examples.
    – Vitaly
    Jun 14, 2012 at 23:23

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